The start of play after lunch on Day 3 of the second Test match between Australia and Pakistan in Melbourne was delayed for a bizarre reason. All the players and on-fielders umpires were out in the middle but the play could not start for a few minutes as third umpire Richard Illingworth was stuck in a lift and could not make his way back to his setup. The players were not clear regarding the delay and the on-field umpires informed them about the situation. However, it was resolved in some time as Illingworth took his position and the game was able to start with Pakistan looking to fight back in the encounter.
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) December 28, 2023
Australia lost Usman Khawaja and Marnus Labuschagne in quick succession as a defiant Pakistan battled hard to stay after Pat Cummins took five wickets to dismiss them for 264.
Cummins ended with 5-48, while Nathan Lyon grabbed 4-73 after Pakistan’s tail wagged in Melbourne to narrow the hosts’ first-innings lead to 54.
It left the Australians with a tricky 15 minutes of the morning session to negotiate, which they failed to do miserably as they slumped to 6-2 at lunch.
Khawaja was out for a duck second ball, caught behind by Mohammad Rizwan off Shaheen Shah Afridi.
The same combination struck again on the last ball before lunch, when Labuschagne edged down the legside to be out for five, which left David Warner the not out batsman on one at the break.
Pakistan had looked comfortable in reaching 124-1 as they chased Australia’s first-innings 318.
But an electric spell from Cummins in the final session on Wednesday saw them collapse to 194-6, and he was at the heart of the action again on Thursday.
After light drizzle delayed the start by 45 minutes, they resumed 124 runs adrift with Rizwan on 29 and Aamer Jamal not out two.
Wicketkeeper Rizwan, picked ahead of Sarfaraz Ahmed for his batting prowess, made a confident start.
But he was no match for a canny Cummins, who tempted him into a drive that flew straight to David Warner who had just been moved to cover from slip.
Rizwan was gone for 42 to end a 45-run partnership with Jamal, who started to play shots with new partner Afridi as they chipped away at the lead.
An enterprising Afridi crunched four boundaries before he was undone by Lyon’s spin, trapped lbw for 21.
Jamal looked in good touch, finding the ropes three times in six balls at one point in his 33 not out.
Cummins grabbed his fifth wicket to dismiss Hasan Ali for two with a delivery that took out his off stump.
Lyon then had Mir Hamza stumped for two to collect his 505th Test wicket.